A few days ago I gave a link to 500 ancient Greek and Latin texts at Google. What I had not realised was that this list was not just a bunch of pointers, but a new set of scans, done at high resolution specifically to aid OCR. A reader has emailed me a link to an article on the Inside Google Books blog — itself new to me. This states, after an intro:
I’m pleased to announce that Google Books is now assisting this work by sharing high-resolution digital scans of over 500 volumes of Ancient Greek and Latin, dating from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. (Of course, downloadable versions of over a million volumes in all fields are available from books.google.com, in a more compressed form.) Jon Orwant and I created this collection using a list of several thousand important Classics volumes identified by our collaborators Professor Gregory Crane and Alison Babeu of Tufts University. We are analyzing additional volumes and expect to be able to release more high-resolution scans in the future.
These scans will aid the development of accurate OCR (Optical Character Recognition) algorithms for Ancient Greek, and provide the basis for electronic versions of important editions of these Classics texts; but perhaps their greatest value will be for the development of new methods in this emerging field. We’re honored that Professor Crane called this donation “a major contribution to what scholars can do.”
It also mentions something equally interesting:
… scholars around the world can now consult a high-resolution digital scan of Venetus A, one of the best manuscripts of the Iliad, at the Center for Hellenic Studies.
Mind you, I find on linking to it that someone at the website decided to block people using Internet Explorer. That’s strange, but a minor thing. The great thing is to get the thing online.
Among the manuscripts of the Iliad, one of the oldest and most important is the manuscript in the Biblioteca Marciana, shelfmark gr. 822. This is given the reference letter (=siglum) “A” in the editions. It is not merely a very important copy, beautifully written, nor merely one of the oldest outside of the very extensive papyrus fragments. It also contains the ancient scholia to the text, originating in the text critical school at the Museum in Alexandria ca. 150 BC. I have yet to manage to see any of the pages, thanks to the quirk above, but it can only be a very good thing indeed!